Monthly Archives: October 2015

Prayer Works

Rescue is at the heart of the gospel. Germane to the meaning of the word salvation is deliverance or rescue. The Bible often uses salvation in its most spiritual sense—redemption, forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life (Colossians 1:13). But since salvation also includes the healing of all creation, salvation has a physical dimension as well (2 Timothy 3:10, 11; 4:18). That physical dimension is the one being emphasized here.When we left Peter last, he was defending his actions to the Jerusalem church about taking the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 11:1-18). Now he will need some defending of his own—as well as some help from on high.

Persecution and Herod’s Plan

Acts 12:1-4kjv

1Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.

And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)

And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

 

The rescue of Peter was different than that of James. In a sense, both apostles were rescued. Herod Agrippa I arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. “Some” could refer to more than just James and Peter, but our text focuses on just these two apostles.

James was put to death with the sword. This could refer to being run through with the sword (like the prophet Isaiah) or it could refer to a beheading. Jesus predicted that suffering like this would happen (John 15:18-20). James, the brother of John and son of Zebedee, was the first apostle to die a martyr’s death. However what Herod intended as evil became James’s path to eternal life. There is a rescue that goes beyond anything we know here on earth. Paranoid Herod showed his true political stripes when he saw how the Jews approved killing James. Wanting to ride the waves of popularity he proceeded to seize Peter and intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. Two providential things hindered Herod’s plans for Peter: it was Passover time. Religious festivals sometimes gave rise to political unrest. To ensure that nothing went wrong, Herod had Peter guarded with four squads of soldiers. Herod did not want to take any risk. After all, incarcerating Peter did not always work well (Acts 5:19).

 

Prayer and God’s Deliverance

Acts12:5-11kjv

 

Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.

10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

 

The church prayed. Here was the human dilemma—So Peter was kept in prison. Here was the divine alternative—but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. God could have rescued Peter without the church’s prayers. But when Heaven and earth collide, the result is miracle. Some have suggested that the church did not really believe in their prayer in light of their surprise when Peter was released (Acts 12:12-17). But the text did not say that they prayed for his release. Peter had caved in previously (Mark 14:66-72). Perhaps the church prayed for him to stand strong in the prospect of his upcoming death. Nonetheless, prayer made a difference. Angels are God’s messengers assigned to glorify him (Revelation 5:11, 12) and serve as ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14). The Passover was over and Herod planned to bring him to trial the next day. God is rarely early but never late. The account is miraculous and humorous. Peter was guarded carefully (with guards chained to him and guards at the door) while sleeping soundly. After all, you don’t want to go to your trial and execution being exhausted. Peter’s ability to sleep says something about his faith (Psalm 121:3, 4; see also Mark 4:35-41 for how Jesus slept through a storm). Peter was sleeping so soundly that the angel had to slap him awake. Peter remained almost subconscious as the angel rescued him from prison. In fact, Peter thought he was seeing a vision. He had good reason to think this (Acts 10:9-16). Peter and the angel made their exit like ninjas. The guards were clueless and the iron gate . . . opened for them by itself. When Peter was safe, the angel left. Peter came to himself. A very similar Greek phrase occurs in Luke 15:17 about the prodigal son. Some refer to it as an “Aha” moment. Peter had several of these in Acts (10:28, 34; 15:7-11). God rescued Peter. The word means “to take out.” God took Peter out of prison so that his ministry could be preserved for another 20 years.What irony. The one to be tried was miraculously delivered from jail. The one in power was overthrown and eaten by worms (Acts 12:19b-23). The church that prayed was overjoyed (vv. 12-17) and continued to increase and grow (v. 24).

 

Living The Gospel

1Thessalonians 2:4 ” But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts”.

Paul and Silas offer up a good example of whole loaf living. They shared, not just the Gospel through words, but they showed how to apply what they were teaching to everyday life. Often it is the testimony of our lives, along side the Gospel that authenticates the message in the eyes of those around us.

 

Even though our lives might be busy, full of activity and even a great ministry, it’s important that we take time to nurture and encourage, to teach and train those believers God has placed in our path.

The Thessalonians likely could see how Paul worked, making tents. They seen how he conducted his business, his quality of workmanship, and how he went about making sales. They could see how he and Silas got along together, how they shared what the had, and how they lived out their faith in the community. How they lived the life they proclaimed. As believers, we have people looking at us. There are many people in our lives with whom we may share the Gospel, but who see only slices of our faith in action. But God also places those in our path who get to see the whole loaf, those with whom we are sharing our lives, as well as the Gospel. These include our spouses and our children. Often though, there may be young or weaker believers in church who may be watching us, or co-workers, friends, and other people we might associate with regularly. How might we open up and share the whole loaf of bread with them . How might we be a living testimony of our Lord and Savior.

Sharing our lives with them can positively impact their perspective on the Gospel as we faithfully live it out before them. Being doers of the word and not hearers and Sayers only. Ask yourself this question daily “Am I living a life today that supports the Gospel message I Proclaim?”

We Have The Power; Share It

1st Corinthians 1:18″ For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; But unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, good news to a dying world. Jesus Christ and him crucified, the foundation of belief for every Christian, the food we feed on, the nourishment we grow on, and the source of life the believer lives on.
If we are going to build better a relationship in the body of Christ, it must be built on Christ and him crucified. The good news from upon high, which brings about a change in the lives of all who by faith embraces this truth. It is these truth which reunites us to God. The Gospel doesn’t need any additives it is good just as it was given. The gospel calls us out of the darkness into Gods marvelous light, and its’ success lies in the plain doctrine of a crucified Lord and a risen Savior. The prosperity message sounds good, and might be easy to swallow, and might change a mind, but it doesn’t have the power to covert a heart. The faith message feels good on the outside, but holds no power to make you good on the inside. The simple truths of Christ and him crucified alone, has the power to turn a sinner to a saint, it is the power of God unto salvation.

 

Paul said “woe with me if I preach not the Gospel”, for it was the Gospel that called him, the Gospel converted him, the gospel saved him. The Gospel is the power to change the whole world.

Keep On Running

Galatians 5:7 “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth”?

This christian race is by no means easy.We are hindered in running the race which is set before us, because of our sinful nature still remains in the holiest of us.

 

The entanglements of the world, like heavy or tight fitting clothes, hindering the runners ability to run. Our weakness and infirmities, wear us out, because the race is long and the road can get rough. Some are to busy, they run around to much to run this race well. Some run to fast at the start and are soon out of breath. We have fallen off in the areas of  reading God’s word, and family prayer. We have lost God’s word in the mist of various other books about the bible that seems to occupy so much of our time, we find no time to read the truth of the bible. Many have read biographies, and commentaries written by religious leaders and famous preachers, but have never read the biography of Jesus Christ, the bible. Many are hindered by the many worldly friends in our lives, none can help us in this race but those who are themselves running it; every one else is a hindrance. When a Christian forms a intimate relationship with a ungodly person, from that moment all progress is at a stand still. See the ungodly person is going in a different direction, so to walk with them you must turn from the direction of God .

A man’s course in religion may often seem to be right and progressive, but the undercurrent of his besetting sins is driving him contrary to where he is striving to get to. Let us run on to the end.